Fighting Poverty with Passion
Tis’ the season to get out and vote! The month of November brings us joyous occasions, Thanksgiving, fall weather, sweaters, the countdown to winter holidays, and of course VOTING. If you live in a neighborhood where you want to see change, one of the most important things you can do to advocate for yourself and others is to exercise your right to vote. Here at the Broadmoor Improvement Association we are hard at work spreading the word about the renewal for our neighborhood’s annual $100 parcel fee on this year’s ballot. This vote takes place on November 21st and every resident (buyers and renters) in the Broadmoor neighborhood is able to vote yes or no on the renewal of the parcel fee, which will serve us for the next 5 years.
So what exactly is an Improvement District you ask? Well the concept is exactly what it sounds like, it is intended to improve the neighborhood in which it exists. The City of New Orleans collects the annual fee from property taxes, and after taking out a one percent collection fee, delegates the money to the Broadmoor Improvement Association’s budget. After the money is collected, the board members, along with neighborhood input decides how the funds will be spent. This tax is designed to implement community development initiatives such as the development of our community anchor institutions: the local library and community center, neighborhood elementary school, an Arts & Wellness center, and a health clinic among other things. Of course all of this planning, networking, capacity building, and decision making cannot be done without a dedicated staff, who part of the parcel fee helps to support.
Compared to a security district, which can cost upwards of $300 to $600 per parcel per year, an improvement district approaches community issues through a more holistic approach. An improvement district creates opportunity to solve problems at their roots whereas a security district increases security patrols as their only solution to improving the quality of life in a given neighborhood. It’s interesting to think about approaching issues like crime in terms of less policing and more effective teaching, more long term investments in social services than having our police be the social worker. We are the first neighborhood improvement district in New Orleans but hopefully will not be the last. The fact that such a strong, involved, and caring community can galvanize around a tax that improves their community through educational, recreational, health & wellness programming rather than policing it is something to be observed and replicated.